Normal Platelet Count

There are 3 types of blood cells, namely, red blood cells (RBC), white blood cells (WBC) and platelet. Platelet is the smallest type of blood cells among the 3 and it is only about 20% of a red blood cell’s diameter. And since they are too small, they only contain a tiny portion of blood volume. To prevent bleeding, one must have a normal amount of platelet. Laboratory blood test can measure your platelet count.

What Is Normal Platelet Count?

Thrombocyte is another term for platelet. They are made in the bone marrow together with the other types of blood cells: RBC and WBC. The normal range of platelet in the blood is about 150,000 –400,000 platelets per mcL (microliter). However, if there’s any slight difference, that may still be considered normal because some laboratory tests use different ways to measure platelet count.

Having normal platelet count is important as platelets circulate in blood vessels and bind together if they see a damaged vessel to form a blood clot and stop any bleeding. So if your test result seems abnormal or if you have any questions about your test, just ask your doctor to make sure everything's right.

What If You Have Low Platelet Count

Having a platelet below the normal range of 150,000 to 400,000 platelets per microliter (mcL) means you have a low platelet count, which is also known as thrombocytopenia.

1. Symptoms of Low Platelet Count

  • Purpura, a condition where one easily get bruises
  • Superficial skin bleeding that looks like rashes with pinpoint-sized purplish-red spots, especially on the lower portion of the legs
  • Continuous bleeding from cuts
  • Gum or nose bleeding
  • Blood in stool or urine
  • Unusual heavy menstrual flow
  • Fatigability
  • Enlarged spleen
  • Yellowish discoloration of the skin, aka jaundice

If you have noticed anything worrisome symptoms, immediate medical help is necessary.

2. Causes of Low Platelet Count

This abnormal platelet count or thrombocytopenia is an inherited condition, but may also be caused by various types of medications or health conditions.

  • Trapped platelets in the spleen

Spleen is an abdominal organ positioned on the left side of your stomach. It is responsible for the production and filtration of harmful blood cells. When spleen enlarges, it can trap lots of platelets in it, leading to the decrease of platelets count in circulation.

  • Decreased number of platelets

If platelets production becomes too low, thrombocytopenia occurs. This doesn’t normally happen but if it does, here are the factors that may cause the low production of platelet in your bone marrow:

  • Alcohol consumption
  • Leukemia
  • Anemia
  • Viral infections such as hepatitis C or HIV
  • Chemotherapy
  • Increased breakdown of platelets due to pregnancy, bacteria in blood, side effects of pregnancy, immune thrombocytopenia, etc.

3. Treatment of Low Platelet Count

If your platelet counts go slightly less than 150,000 mcL, which is already considered low, your bone marrow will produce and replenish the old and depleted ones naturally if you have a good immune system. So, mild cases of thrombocytopenia may not need medical attention.

But it would be wise to go to the doctor if you noticed any worrisome signs and symptom. With severe thrombocytopenia, the following are the recommended treatments depending on its cause.

  • Treating underlying conditions, like replace the thrombocytopenia inducing medication like heparin with another kind of blood thinning drug.
  • Blood/platelet transfusion is used to transfuse packed blood or platelets to increase your platelet count to normal levels.
  • Medications are recommended if you have an immune system issue and corticosteroid is the first choice.
  • Plasma exchange where plasma is replaced in your blood is needed if thrombotic thrombocytopenic purpura or TTP occurs.
  • Surgery-splenectomy may be considered if all other treatments don't work.

What If You Have High Platelet Count

With a higher than normal platelet count, you may suffer from primary or secondary thrombocythemia, which may lead to the thickening of blood.

1. Primary Thrombocythemia

Also called essential thrombocythemia, it is a very unusual bone marrow disorder and mostly found among women and people above 50. Diagnosis involves series of blood tests and physical examination.

Symptoms

Primary thrombocythemiais commonly asymptomatic, but it may display the following symptoms:

  • In some cases, the first sign may be a blood clot that may develop anywhere in the body. When bleeding occurs, it may be in the form of bleeding gums, blood in the stool, nose bleeding, blood in the urine and easy bruising.
  • Other symptoms may include headaches, vertigo, weakness, numbness in your feet or hands, vision changes, distended spleen and chest pain

Causes

The exact cause of this condition is unknown, but reports have found out that about 80% of people who suffer from it have a permanent alteration in their DNA classification, particularly the Janus Kinase2 or JAK2 which formulate the genetic factor. The surplus platelets in the blood increase your chances of bleeding or clotting complications.

Treatment

Treatment is recommended based on many factors such as age, lifestyle, history of bleeding, and medical conditions. But normally, if you don’t experience any symptoms, your doctor may not recommend any treatment. If treatments are needed, they include:

  • OTC drugs such as aspirin to alleviate blood clotting,
  • Prescription drugs to lower the production of platelets
  • Platelet pheresis, a process of removing platelets directly from the blood

2. Secondary Thrombocythemia

This condition is also called thrombocytosis or reactive thrombocytosis. Know its symptoms, causes and treatments here:

Symptoms

  • Headaches
  • Lightheadedness
  • Pain in the chest
  • Fainting
  • Short-term vision changes
  • Numb or tingling sensation of the feet or hands

Causes

On other hands, your higher than normal platelet count may be reactive thrombocytosis and the causes may include, but not limited to, cancer, exercise, heart attack, iron deficiency, splenectomy, allergic reactions, major surgery, burns, hemolytic anemia, vitamin deficiency, blood loss, sudden bleeding, tuberculosis, etc.

Treatment

The required treatment for reactive thrombocytosis is focused on the primary cause.

  • Normally, medication is not required as your body will eventually produce enough platelets if this is due to a recent surgery and/or an injury.
  • But if your thrombocytosis is caused by an inflammatory diseases or chronic infections, normal levels of platelet count may not be achieved unless the condition itself is completely resolved. Once the condition is treated, you will have normal platelet count.
 
 
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